How to save an overwatered plant

How to save an overwatered plant

Want to learn more about Diagnosis: Overwatering

Get individual care schedule and reminders for your plant with our app Planta. Never kill a plant again!

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Why is this happening?

Overwatered plants can get droopy foliage, yellowing leaves and and a multitude of other symptoms. They often need some extra supervision and care in order to recover. Overwatering is one of the most common diagnoses for struggling plants. Overwatering can be fatal so you need to take action immediately.


  • Yellowing leaves

  • Droopy leaves

  • Black, wet or dry spots or areas beginning from the edges of the leaves. Sometimes with a yellow border to the healthy tissue

  • Root rot

  • Stems starts to rot or die off

rotting base stem rot

What to do now

  • Remove any excess water from the tray or cachepot

  • If the soil has already soaked up a lot of water you can place your plant on some newspaper or a towel and let it dry for a while before putting the plant back into the pot

  • Make sure your plant has plenty of light and is placed in a warm spot

  • If your plant is placed in a cache pot, make sure that it isn't sitting to tight against the nursery pot. This can actually close off the air circulation and cause root rot.

If the soil is excessively wet ot water logged

  • Remove the plant from the pot and inspect the roots - any roots that are rotting or dead need to be trimmed off

  • Repot your plant into fresh soil that is slightly moist. Choose a pot with drainage holes that will suit the size of your plant's current root system

  • Use the recommended soil type for your plant.

  • Add the repotting task to Planta so the watering schedule can adjust to its new settings.

  • Before watering again, check that the soil isn't too moist. You might need to snooze the watering task in the beginning, until recovered and reestablished

  • Pause the fertilizing tasks for a while so that the roots can recover. This will be automatically done by Planta when adding a repotting task

tight white pot soil mold

Common questions

Why is too much watering bad?

Plants' roots need oxygen as much as they need water, and when you overwater, especially in compacted or clay soils, the soil becomes waterlogged. There are two types of overwatering: too often and too much at once

  • Giving water too often can lead to the soil never really drying up, which is especially important for plants that are not used to having constant supplies of water - like succulents.

  • Giving water too much at once - some soils are very moisture retentive and can become saturated with water without enough excess draining out. Saturated soil significantly lowers the gas exchange the roots need to function properly. Prolonged periods of saturated or wet soil is what causes symptoms of overwatering.

Am I using the correct soil?

By avoiding soil mixes that compact easily and by adding porosity to the soil by mixing different substrates, you can reduce the risk of overwatering. By always growing your plants in pots with drainage holes and providing them with plenty of light you lower the risk even more.

Is it over- or underwatered?

This is a tricky one - since a plant can show similiar symptoms with both of these issues, including wilting, curling and yellowing leaves. The difference is how the things look and feel.

  • With an underwatered plant, the soil is dry all the way through, with slowly drooping leaves. When watered the plant should start to bounce back within just a couple of hours.

  • For an overwatered plant, many leaves deteriorate fast, become yellow and might fall off. The soil may be wet deep down in the pot - so be sure to check throughout. You can also check the roots, to see if they feel slimy or soft. Additionally, the soil may sometimes smell.